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Aristotle; The Basic Works of Aristotle

SKU: Aristotle AB0610236 $39.00
The Basic Works of Aristotle edited and with an introduction by Richard McKeon published by Random House New York in 1941. First Edition Sixteenth Printing. Frontispiece bust of Aristotle from the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna. Blue half-leather with cloth boards and single-rule border in gilt front and back. Three compartment spine with raised bands title within a single-rule border and two floral embellishments within an frame border all in gilt. Worn corners at top fore-edge. Shelf-wear edge-wear grime scuffs and bumps are LESS than consistent with age. Marble pastedowns and endpapers. Binding is tight. 1487 white pages without foxing spotting tear or loss. Text is complete. Minor sun toning to fore-edge. Gilt top edge. No marks or inscriptions. No dust jacket. Volume measures: 14.5 cm. x 22.7 cm. (Octavo). A very nice volume. Aristotle (Greek: A 1/4 I1IIIIIIAristotl) (384 BC 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects including physics metaphysics poetry theater music logic rhetoric politics government ethics biology and zoology. Together with Plato and Socrates (Plato's teacher) Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. Aristotle's writings constitute a first at creating a comprehensive system of Western philosophy encompassing morality and aesthetics logic and science politics and metaphysics. Aristotle's views on the physical sciences profoundly shaped medieval scholarship and their influence extended well into the Renaissance although they were ultimately replaced by Newtonian physics. In the biological sciences some of his observations were confirmed to be accurate only in the nineteenth century. His works contain the earliest known formal study of logic which was incorporated in the late nineteenth century into modern formal logic. In metaphysics Aristotelianism had a profound influence on philosophical and theological thinking in the Islamic and Jewish traditions in the Middle Ages and it continues to influence Christian theology especially Eastern Orthodox theology and the scholastic tradition of the Catholic Church. His ethics though always influential gained renewed interest with the modern advent of virtue ethics. All aspects of Aristotle's philosophy continue to be the object of active academic study today. Though Aristotle wrote many elegant treatises and dialogues (Cicero described his literary style as ''a river of gold'') it is thought that the majority of his writings are now lost and only about one-third of the original works have survived. Despite the far-reaching appeal that Aristotle's works have traditionally enjoyed today modern scholarship questions a substantial portion of the Aristotelian corpus as authentically Aristotle's own. Aristotle was born in Stageira Chalcidice in 384 BC about 55 km (34 mi) east of modern-day Thessaloniki. His father Nicomachus was the personal physician to King Amyntas of Macedon. Aristotle was trained and educated as a member of the aristocracy. At about the age of eighteen he went to Athens to continue his education at Plato's Academy. Aristotle remained at the academy for nearly twenty years not leaving until after Plato's death in 347 BC. He then traveled with xenocrates to the court of his friend Hermias of Atarneus in Asia Minor. While in Asia Aristotle traveled with Theophrastus to the island of Lesbos where together they researched the botany and zoology of the island. Aristotle married Hermias's adoptive daughter (or niece) Pythias. She bore him a daughter whom they named Pythias. Soon after Hermias' death Aristotle was invited by Philip II of Macedon to become the tutor to his son Alexander the Great in 343 BC. Aristotle was appointed as the head of the royal academy of Macedon. During that time he gave lessons not only to Alexander but also to two other future kings: Ptolemy and Cassander. In his Politics Aristotle states that only one thing could justify monarchy and that was if the virtue of the king and his family were greater than the virtue of the rest of the citizens put together. Tactfully he included the young prince and his father in that category. Aristotle encouraged Alexander toward eastern conquest and his attitude towards Persia was unabashedly ethnocentric. In one famous example he counsels Alexander to be 'a leader to the Greeks and a despot to the barbarians to look after the former as after friends and relatives and to deal with the latter as with beasts or plants'. By 335 BC he had returned to Athens establishing his own school there known as the Lyceum. Aristotle conducted courses at the school for the next twelve years. While in Athens his wife Pythias died and Aristotle became involved with Herpyllis of Stageira who bore him a son whom he named after his father Nicomachus. According to the Suda he also had an eromenos Palaephatus of Abydus. It is during this period in Athens from 335 to 323 BC when Aristotle is believed to have composed many of his works. Aristotle wrote many dialogues only fragments of which survived. The works that have survived are in treatise form and were not for the most part intended for widespread publication as they are generally thought to be lecture aids for his students. His most important treatises include Physics Metaphysics Nicomachean Ethics Politics De Anima (On the Soul) and Poetics. Aristotle not only studied almost every subject possible at the time but made significant contributions to most of them. In physical science Aristotle studied anatomy astronomy embryology geography geology meteorology physics and zoology. In philosophy he wrote on aesthetics ethics government metaphysics politics economics psychology rhetoric and theology. He also studied education foreign customs literature and poetry. His combined works constitute a virtual encyclopedia of Greek knowledge. It has been suggested that Aristotle was probably the last person to know everything there was to be known in his own time. Near the end of Alexander's life Alexander began to suspect plots against himself and threatened Aristotle in letters. Aristotle had made no secret of his contempt for Alexander's pretense of divinity and the king had executed Aristotle's grandnephew Callisthenes as a traitor. A widespread tradition in antiquity suspected Aristotle of playing a role in Alexander's death but there is little evidence for this. Upon Alexander's death anti-Macedonian sentiment in Athens once again flared. Eurymedon the hierophant denounced Aristotle for not holding the gods in honor. Aristotle fled the city to his mother's family estate in Chalcis explaining''I will not allow the Athenians to sin twice against philosophy'' a reference to Athens's prior trial and execution of Socrates. However he died in Euboea of natural causes within the year (in 322 BC). Aristotle named chief executor his student Antipater and left a will in which he asked to be buried next to his wife. Logic: With the Prior Analytics Aristotle is credited with the earliest study of formal logic and his conception of it was the dominant form of Western logic until 19th century advances in mathematical logic. Kant stated in the Critique of Pure Reason that Aristotle's theory of logic completely accounted for the core of deductive inference. History Aristotle ''says that 'on the subject of reasoning' he 'had nothing else on an earlier date to speak of'''. However Plato reports that syntax was devised before him by Prodicus of Ceos who was concerned by the correct use of words. Logic seems to have emerged from dialectics: the earlier philosophers made frequent use of concepts like reductio ad absurdum in their discussions but never truly understood the logical implications. Even Plato had difficulties with logic: although he had a reasonable conception of a deducting system he could never actually construct one and relied instead on his dialectic. Plato believed that deduction would simply follow from premises hence he focused on maintaining solid premises so that the conclusion would logically follow. Consequently Plato realized that a method for obtaining conclusions would be most beneficial. He never succeeded in devising such a method but his best attempt was published in his book Sophist where he introduced his division method. Analytics and the Organon What we today call Aristotelian logic Aristotle himself would have labeled ''analytics''. The term ''logic'' he reserved to mean dialectics. Most of Aristotle's work is probably not in its original form since it was most likely edited by students and later lecturers. The logical works of Aristotle were compiled into six books in about the early 1st century AD: Categories On Interpretation Prior Analytics Posterior Analytics Topics On Sophistical Refutations The order of the books (or the teachings from which they are composed) is not certain but this list was derived from analysis of Aristotle's writings. It goes from the basics the analysis of simple terms in the Categories the analysis of propositions and their elementary relations in On Interpretation to the study of more complex forms namely syllogisms (in the Analytics) and dialectics (in the Topics and Sophistical Refutations). The first three treatises form the core of the logical theory stricto sensu: the grammar of the language of logic and the correctness rules of reasoning. There is one volume of Aristotle's concerning logic not found in the Organon namely the fourth book of Metaphysics. Aristotle scientific method Like his teacher Plato Aristotle's philosophy aims at the universal. Aristotle however found the universal in particular things which he called the essence of things while Plato finds that the universal exists apart from particular things and is related to them as their prototype or exemplar. For Aristotle therefore philosophic method implies the ascent from the study of particular phenomena to the knowledge of essences while for Plato philosophic method means the descent from a knowledge of universal Forms (or ideas) to a contemplation of particular imitations of these. For Aristotle''form'' still refers to the unconditional basis of phenomena but is ''instantiated'' in a particular substance (see Universals and particulars below). In a certain sense Aristotle's method is both inductive and deductive while Plato's is essentially deductive from a priori principles. In Aristotle's terminology''natural philosophy'' is a branch of philosophy examining the phenomena of the natural world and includes fields that would be regarded today as physics biology and other natural sciences. In modern times the scope of philosophy has become limited to more generic or abstract inquiries such as ethics and metaphysics in which logic plays a major role. Today's philosophy tends to exclude empirical study of the natural world by means of the scientific method. In contrast Aristotle's philosophical endeavors encompassed virtually all facets of intellectual inquiry. In the larger sense of the word Aristotle makes philosophy coextensive with reasoning which he also would describe as ''science''. Note however that his use of the term science carries a different meaning than that covered by the term ''scientific method''. For Aristotle''all science (dianoia) is either practical poetical or theoretical''. By practical science he means ethics and politics: by poetical science he means the study of poetry and the other fine arts: by theoretical science he means physics mathematics and metaphysics. If logic (or ''analytics'') is regarded as a study preliminary to philosophy the divisions of Aristotelian philosophy would consist of: (1) Logic: (2) Theoretical Philosophy including Metaphysics Physics Mathematics (3) Practical Philosophy and (4) Poetical Philosophy. In the period between his two stays in Athens between his times at the Academy and the Lyceum Aristotle conducted most of the scientific thinking and research for which he is renowned today. In fact most of Aristotle's life was devoted to the study of the objects of natural science. Aristotle's metaphysics contains observations on the nature of numbers but he made no original contributions to mathematics. He did however perform original research in the natural sciences e.g. botany zoology physics astronomy chemistry meteorology and several other sciences. Aristotle's writings on science are largely qualitative as opposed to quantitative. Beginning in the sixteenth century scientists began applying mathematics to the physical sciences and Aristotle's work in this area was deemed hopelessly inadequate. His failings were largely due to the absence of concepts like mass velocity force and temperature. He had a conception of speed and temperature but no quantitative understanding of them which was partly due to the absence of basic experimental devices like clocks and thermometers. His writings provide an account of many scientific observations a mixture of precocious accuracy and curious errors. For example in his History of Animals he claimed that human males have more teeth than females and in the Generation of Animals he said the female is as it were a deformed male. In a similar vein John Philoponus and later Galileo showed by simple experiments that Aristotle's theory that a heavier object falls faster than a lighter object is incorrect. On the other hand Aristotle refuted Democritus's claim that the Milky Way was made up of ''those stars which are shaded by the earth from the sun's rays'' pointing out (correctly even if such reasoning was bound to be dismissed for a long time) that given ''current astronomical demonstrations'' that ''the size of the sun is greater than that of the earth and the distance of the stars from the earth many times greater than that of the sun then...the sun shines on all the stars and the earth screens none of them.'' In places Aristotle goes too far in deriving 'laws of the universe' from simple observation and over-stretched reason. Today's scientific method assumes that such thinking without sufficient facts is ineffective and that discerning the validity of one's hypothesis requires far more rigorous experimentation than that which Aristotle used to support his laws. Aristotle also had some scientific blind spots. He posited a geocentric cosmology that we may discern in selections of the Metaphysics which was widely accepted up until the 1500s. From the 3rd century to the 1500s the dominant view held that the Earth was the center of the universe (geocentrism). Since he was perhaps the philosopher most respected by European thinkers during and after the Renaissance these thinkers often took Aristotle's erroneous positions as given which held back science in this epoch. However Aristotle's scientific shortcomings should not mislead one into forgetting his great advances in the many scientific fields. For instance he founded logic as a formal science and created foundations to biology that were not superseded for two millennia. Moreover he introduced the fundamental notion that nature is composed of things that change and that studying such changes can provide useful knowledge of underlying constants. Physics The five elements Fire which is hot and dry. Earth which is cold and dry. Air which is hot and wet. Water which is cold and wet. Aether which is the divine substance that makes up the heavenly spheres and heavenly bodies (stars and planets). Each of the four earthly elements has its natural place: the earth at the centre of the universe then water then air then fire. When they are out of their natural place they have natural motion requiring no external cause which is towards that place: so bodies sink in water air bubbles rise up rain falls flame rises in air. The heavenly element has perpetual circular motion. Causality The Four Causes Material cause describes the material out of which something is composed. Thus the material cause of a table is wood and the material cause of a car is rubber and steel. It is not about action. It does not mean one domino knocks over another domino. The formal cause tells us what a thing is that any thing is determined by the definition form pattern essence whole synthesis or archetype. It embraces the account of causes in terms of fundamental principles or general laws as the whole (i.e. macrostructure) is the cause of its parts a relationship known as the whole-part causation. Plainly put the formal cause according to which a statue or a domino is made is the idea existing in the first place as exemplar in the mind of the sculptor and in the second place as intrinsic determining cause embodied in the matter. Formal cause could only refer to the essential quality of causation. A more simple example of the formal cause is the blueprint or plan that one has before making or causing a human made object to exist. The efficient cause is that from which the change or the ending of the change first starts. It identifies 'what makes of what is made and what causes change of what is changed' and so suggests all sorts of agents nonliving or living acting as the sources of change or movement or rest. Representing the current understanding of causality as the relation of cause and effect this covers the modern definitions of ''cause'' as either the agent or agency or particular events or states of affairs. More simply again that which immediately sets the thing in motion. So take the two dominos this time of equal weighting the first is knocked over causing the second also to fall over. This is effectively efficient cause. The final cause is that for the sake of which a thing exists or is done including both purposeful and instrumental actions and activities. The final cause or telos is the purpose or end that something is supposed to serve or it is that from which and that to which the change is. This also covers modern ideas of mental causation involving such psychological causes as volition need motivation or motives rational irrational ethical and all that gives purpose to behavior. Additionally things can be causes of one another causing each other reciprocally as hard work causes fitness and vice versa although not in the same way or function the one is as the beginning of change the other as the goal. (Thus Aristotle first suggested a reciprocal or circular causality as a relation of mutual dependence or influence of cause upon effect). Moreover Aristotle indicated that the same thing can be the cause of contrary effects: its presence and absence may result in different outcomes. Simply it is the goal or purpose that brings about an event (not necessarily a mental goal). Taking our two dominos it requires someone to intentionally knock the dominos over as they cannot fall themselves. Aristotle marked two modes of causation: proper (prior) causation and accidental (chance) causation. All causes proper and incidental can be spoken as potential or as actual particular or generic. The same language refers to the effects of causes so that generic effects assigned to generic causes particular effects to particular causes operating causes to actual effects. Essentially causality does not suggest a temporal relation between the cause and the effect. All further investigations of causality will consist of imposing the favorite hierarchies on the order causes such as final > efficient > material > formal (Thomas Aquinas) or of restricting all causality to the material and efficient causes or to the efficient causality (deterministic or chance) or just to regular sequences and correlations of natural phenomena (the natural sciences describing how things happen instead of explaining the whys and wherefores). Optics Aristotle held more accurate theories on some optical concepts than other philosophers of his day. The earliest known written evidence of a camera obscura can be found in Aristotle's documentation of such a device in 350 BC in Problemata. Aristotle's apparatus contained a dark chamber that had a single small hole or aperture to allow for sunlight to enter. Aristotle used the device to make observations of the sun and noted that no matter what shape the hole was the sun would still be correctly displayed as a round object. In modern cameras this is analogous to the diaphragm. Aristotle also made the observation that when the distance between the tiny hole and the surface with the image increased the image was amplified. Chance and spontaneity Spontaneity and chance are causes of effects. Chance as an incidental cause lies in the realm of accidental things. It is ''from what is spontaneous'' (but note that what is spontaneous does not come from chance). For a better understanding of Aristotle's conception of ''chance'' it might be better to think of ''coincidence'': Something takes place by chance if a person sets out with the intent of having one thing take place but with the result of another thing (not intended) taking place. For example: A person seeks donations. That person may find another person willing to donate a substantial sum. However if the person seeking the donations met the person donating not for the purpose of collecting donations but for some other purpose Aristotle would call the collecting of the donation by that particular donator a result of chance. It must be unusual that something happens by chance. In other words if something happens all or most of the time we cannot say that it is by chance. There is also more specific kind of chance which Aristotle names ''luck'' that can only apply to human beings since it is in the sphere of moral actions. According to Aristotle luck must involve choice (and thus deliberation) and only humans are capable of deliberation and choice. ''What is not capable of action cannot do anything by chance''. Aristotle defines metaphysics as ''the knowledge of immaterial being'' or of ''being in the highest degree of abstraction.'' He refers to metaphysics as ''first philosophy'' as well as ''the theologic science.'' Substance potentiality and actuality Aristotle examines the concept of substance and essence (ousia) in his Metaphysics Book VII and he concludes that a particular substance is a combination of both matter and form. As he proceeds to the book VIII he concludes that the matter of the substance is the substratum or the stuff of which it is composed e.g. the matter of the house are the bricks stones timbers etc. or whatever constitutes the potential house. While the form of the substance is the actual house namely 'covering for bodies and chattels' or any other differentia (see also predicables). The formula that gives the components is the account of the matter and the formula that gives the differentia is the account of the form. With regard to the change (kinesis) and its causes now as he defines in his Physics and On Generation and Corruption he distinguishes the coming to be from: 1) growth and diminution which is change in quantity: 2) locomotion which is change in space: and 3) alteration which is change in quality. The coming to be is a change where nothing persists of which the resultant is a property. In that particular change he introduces the concept of potentiality (dynamis) and actuality (entelecheia) in association with the matter and the form. Referring to potentiality this is what a thing is capable of doing or being acted upon if it is not prevented by something else. For example the seed of a plant in the soil is potentially (dynamei) plant and if is not prevented by something it will become a plant. Potentially beings can either 'act' (poiein) or 'be acted upon' (paschein) which can be either innate or learned. For example the eyes possess the potentiality of sight (innate being acted upon) while the capability of playing the flute can be possessed by learning (exercise acting). Actuality is the fulfillment of the end of the potentiality. Because the end (telos) is the principle of every change and for the sake of the end exists potentiality therefore actuality is the end. Referring then to our previous example we could say that actuality is when the seed of the plant becomes a plant. '' For that for the sake of which a thing is is its principle and the becoming is for the sake of the end: and the actuality is the end and it is for the sake of this that the potentiality is acquired. For animals do not see in order that they may have sight but they have sight that they may see.'' In conclusion the matter of the house is its potentiality and the form is its actuality. The formal cause (aitia) then of that change from potential to actual house is the reason (logos) of the house builder and the final cause is the end namely the house itself. Then Aristotle proceeds and concludes that the actuality is prior to potentiality in formula in time and in substantiality. With this definition of the particular substance (i.e. matter and form) Aristotle tries to solve the problem of the unity of the beings e.g. what is that makes the man one? Since according to Plato there are two Ideas: animal and biped how then is man a unity? However according to Aristotle the potential being (matter) and the actual one (form) are one and the same thing. Universals and particulars Aristotle's predecessor Plato argued that all things have a universal form which could be either a property or a relation to other things. When we look at an apple for example we see an apple and we can also analyze a form of an apple. In this distinction there is a particular apple and a universal form of an apple. Moreover we can place an apple next to a book so that we can speak of both the book and apple as being next to each other. Plato argued that there are some universal forms that are not a part of particular things. For example it is possible that there is no particular good in existence but ''good'' is still a proper universal form. Bertrand Russell is a contemporary philosopher that agreed with Plato on the existence of ''uninstantiated universals''. Aristotle disagreed with Plato on this point arguing that all universals are instantiated. Aristotle argued that there are no universals that are unattached to existing things. According to Aristotle if a universal exists either as a particular or a relation then there must have been must be currently or must be in the future something on which the universal can be predicated. Consequently according to Aristotle if it is not the case that some universal can be predicated to an object that exists at some period of time then it does not exist. In addition Aristotle disagreed with Plato about the location of universals. As Plato spoke of the world of the forms a location where all universal forms subsist Aristotle maintained that universals exist within each thing on which each universal is predicated. So according to Aristotle the form of apple exists within each apple rather than in the world of the forms. Biology and medicine In Aristotelian science most especially in biology things he saw himself have stood the test of time better than his retelling of the reports of others which contain error and superstition. He dissected animals but not humans and his ideas on how the human body works have been almost entirely superseded. Empirical Research Program Aristotle is the earliest natural historian whose work has survived in some detail. Aristotle certainly did research on the natural history of Lesbos and the surrounding seas and neighbouring areas. The works that reflect this research such as History of Animals Generation of Animals and Parts of Animals contain some observations and interpretations along with sundry myths and mistakes. The most striking passages are about the sea-life visible from observation on Lesbos and available from the catches of fishermen. His observations on catfish electric fish (Torpedo) and angler-fish are detailed as is his writing on cephalopods namely Octopus Sepia (cuttlefish) and the paper nautilus (Argonauta argo). His description of the hectocotyl arm was about two thousand years ahead of its time and widely disbelieved until its rediscovery in the nineteenth century. He separated the aquatic mammals from fish and knew that sharks and rays were part of the group he called Selach(selachians). Another good example of his methods comes from the Generation of Animals in which Aristotle describes breaking open fertilized chicken eggs at intervals to observe when visible organs were generated. He gave accurate descriptions of ruminants' four-chambered fore-stomachs and of the ovoviviparous embryological development of the hound shark Mustelus mustelus. Classification of living things Aristotle's classification of living things contains some elements which still existed in the nineteenth century. What the modern zoologist would call vertebrates and invertebrates Aristotle called 'animals with blood' and 'animals without blood' (he was not to know that complex invertebrates do make use of haemoglobin but of a different kind from vertebrates). Animals with blood were divided into live-bearing (humans and mammals) and egg-bearing (birds and fish). Invertebrates ('animals without blood') are insects crustacea (divided into non-shelled cephalopods and shelled) and testacea (molluscs). In some respects this incomplete classification is better than that of Linnaeus who crowded the invertebrata together into two groups Insecta and Vermes (worms). For Charles Singer''Nothing is more remarkable than [Aristotle's] efforts to [exhibit] the relationships of living things as a scala naturae'' Aristotle's History of Animals classified organisms in relation to a hierarchical ''Ladder of Life'' (scala naturae) placing them according to complexity of structure and function so that higher organisms showed greater vitality and ability to move. Aristotle believed that intellectual purposes i.e. formal causes guided all natural processes. Such a teleological view gave Aristotle cause to justify his observed data as an expression of formal design. Noting that ''no animal has at the same time both tusks and horns'' and ''a single-hooved animal with two horns I have never seen'' Aristotle suggested that Nature giving no animal both horns and tusks was staving off vanity and giving creatures faculties only to such a degree as they are necessary. Noting that ruminants had multiple stomachs and weak teeth he supposed the first was to compensate for the latter with Nature trying to preserve a type of balance. In a similar fashion Aristotle believed that creatures were arranged in a graded scale of perfection rising from plants on up to man the scala naturae or Great Chain of Being. His system had eleven grades arranged according ''to the degree to which they are infected with potentiality'' expressed in their form at birth. The highest animals laid warm and wet creatures alive the lowest bore theirs cold dry and in thick eggs. Aristotle also held that the level of a creature's perfection was reflected in its form but not preordained by that form. Ideas like this and his ideas about souls are not regarded as science at all in modern times. He placed emphasis on the type(s) of soul an organism possessed asserting that plants possess a vegetative soul responsible for reproduction and growth animals a vegetative and a sensitive soul responsible for mobility and sensation and humans a vegetative a sensitive and a rational soul capable of thought and reflection. Aristotle in contrast to earlier philosophers but in accordance with the Egyptians placed the rational soul in the heart rather than the brain. Notable is Aristotle's division of sensation and thought which generally went against previous philosophers with the exception of Alcmaeon. Ethics Aristotle considered ethics to be a practical rather than theoretical study i.e. one aimed at doing good rather than knowing for its own sake. He wrote several treatises on ethics including most notably the Nichomachean Ethics. Aristotle taught that virtue has to do with the proper function (ergon) of a thing. An eye is only a good eye in so much as it can see because the proper function of an eye is sight. Aristotle reasoned that humans must have a function specific to humans and that this function must be an activity of the psuch